Pre & Probiotics - Natural Immunity Boosters!

Curd in the Bowl
Curd in the Bowl

In this Pandemic of COVID-19, the awareness for immunity is widely spread through different superfoods and probiotics. As the entire world is celebrating global prebiotics week from 1 to 7 November 2020.  

It is the need of the hour to spread awareness of probiotics, healthy bacteria. and its innumerable health benefits. 

Basically, probiotics are best known for their role in digestive health and adding probiotics in your diet can improve gut health.  

Sounds weird ... benefits of bacteria? Isn’t it?  

Living microorganisms found in yoghurt and other cultured and fermented foods may help improve your body's bacterial microbiome flora inside and out. They're called probiotics, a name that means "for life." The fermentation process in this food allows live bacteria to thrive which in turn will be able to convert sugar into alcohol and acid. 

Probiotics are the good bacteria living in your gut. You have both good and bad bacteria in your body, and a balance is necessary for a healthy gut. 

Our bodies are home to a mix of good and bad bacteria. They're pretty much everywhere — the mouth, gut, and skin.  

What is Prebiotics? 

Prebiotics are specific forms of dietary fiber that feed good bacteria or probiotics. Other than serving as nutrition for probiotics, supporting your gut health, and enhancing your immune system — prebiotics have additional benefits when you consume them. 

Some of the health benefits of prebiotics are enhancing mineral absorption, potential anti-cancer properties, anti-inflammatory, and other immune-assisting effects. To keep your probiotics going strong, some of the best prebiotic foods to eat include Jicama, Chicory root, Acaciagum, Jerusalem, Artichokes, Garlic, Onions, Leeks , etc. 

Health benefits of Probiotics include: 

  • Improving gut health: Probiotics are known to be good for your digestion. A healthy digestive system and gut microbial lining help in eliminating gas and bloating problems. Probiotics may be able to help improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel conditions. Improve digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.

  • Improving the immune system. Probiotics have been shown to boost your immune system against various viral and bacterial infections. Having a healthy flora population in your gut protects you from bad bacteria, such as overgrowths of yeast, fungi, and viruses, and protects against hostile bacteria to prevent infection.

  • Preventing and treating diarrhea. A 2010 study published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that probiotics can reduce the severity and duration of infectious diarrhea. 

  • Boosting mental health. Your gut is sometimes called your “second brain,” and its balance of bacteria directly affects your mental health.

  • It plays an important role in how you think and feels by improving the production and regulation of hormones, such as insulin and leptin. And they have been found to produce neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA — which play a key role in your mood. More and more people are using probiotic products to treat or improve illnesses or to maintain overall well-being. 

  • Lowering blood pressure: Studies found that probiotics may help to reduce blood pressure. 

  • Losing weight. By improving metabolism rate and easing out digestion.

Balance and heal: Probiotics also help to balance the bacterial imbalance caused by taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good bacteria along with the harmful ones, often leading to gas, cramping or diarrhoea.  

Breakdown proteins and fats Probiotics may help break down protein and fat in the digestive tract — important for infants and patients who need to build strength throughout an illness. 

Where Do You Find Probiotics? 

Fermented or cultured dairy products are a major source of probiotics.  

Other sources of probiotics include: 

  • Sauerkraut: A form of fermented (cabbage, red or green) sauerkraut is full of probiotics created during the fermentation process.

  • Kimchi: This traditional Korean food is made using fermentation with cabbage and other veggies.

  • Kombucha: a fermented tea that is often flavoured.

  • Tempeh: A fermented soybean product that’s high in both protein and probiotics.

  • Miso: A staple in Japanese cuisine a salty paste, usually made from soy, which is often used for soup and flavouring bases.

  • Natto: It is a soy beverage made from fermented soybeans and is rich in probiotics 

  • Kefir: A cultured, probiotic food typically made with cow’s milk. 

  • Yoghurt: cultured dairy product.

  • Pickled vegetables: While cucumbers jalapeno peppers or any kind of pickled veggie can provide probiotics.

Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements in capsule, tablet or powder form. 

Almost all our health concerns can be traced back to our belly. Ensure a healthy gut and the rest will take care of itself. This is the magic of probiotics.” 

Author details

Dr Preeti Sawairam, 
Assistant Professor 
Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), Pune 

The author is a senior officer from the Department of Agriculture, GoM, and has done her post-graduation in Food science & technology. MPKV, Rahuri, Maharashtra. 

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